Asian-flavored soup noodles being sold in Hong Kong contain excessive levels of sodium in most cases, the city’s consumer watchdog said on Wednesday, warning people of the health risks.
According to the Consumer Council, samples collected from the Asian-flavored soup noodles offered in the market contained sodium amounts that are higher than the daily intake recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The council said it, along with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s Centre for Food Safety (CFS), conducted tests on 100 samples of Asian soup noodles, involving 10 types, between April and June last year.
The tests showed that 76 samples were found to contain sodium above the WHO recommended intake limit — which is, daily 2,000mg sodium intake for an average adult.
The sample with the highest sodium was a type of spicy rice noodles with pork belly and cuttlefish ball, which contained 6,000mg of sodium a bowl, meaning eating one bowl of the noodle that was sold in a branch of a Yunnan, Guizhou & Sichuan noodle restaurant in Mong kok will consume a sodium quantity equivalent to a three-day limit.
A rice noodle of the same type that was offered at TamJai SamGor Mixian, which owns a number of branches in Hong Kong, was also found to contain as much as 3,900mg of sodium.
As for the samples of prepackaged cup/bowl noodles, the one that contained most sodium was a locally made Japanese-style bowl noodle, with 3,150mg sodium in it.
The tests found that the real culprit behind the high sodium content in Asian noodles was the soup base, the Hong Kong economic Journal reports.
Sodium intake could drop 18 to 68 percent if one skipped the soup and just ate the noodles and the toppings, the council said.
The biggest sodium reduction was found in a tom yum Pha Thai noodle, down from 3,000 mg to 970 mg.
Given these findings, the consumer watchdog urged the public to minimize drinking noodle soup in order to reduce sodium intake.
If someone wants that meal, they should ask the restaurant to reduce salt or sauce when ordering food and skip drinking the soup as much as possible.
The CFS cautioned that the high sodium content in the majority of the samples means the food puts people’s health at risk, exposing them to increased risks of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
Following the public statement by the consumer watchdog and the health authorities, the Yunnan, Guizhou & Sichuan noodle restaurant promised to reduce sodium contents in its spicy rice noodle by one third.
TamJai SamGor Mixian said it will study the feasibility of using less sodium in its noodles while taking reference to the sodium amount recommended by the WHO.
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